This is not that sort of dish. If what you need is a vegetarian bounty of greens and gluten free deliciousness with a gilding of good fats that can be consumed any time of the day or night, these stuffed chickpea flour crepes will soon be your friend. (If you’re in a hurry or have little patience for the prattlings of life, which largely revolve around parenthood and pregnancy at present, skip straight to the recipe at the bottom).
I’m fairly smitten with recipes that don’t adhere to strict day/night boundaries at the moment. Largely, because nothing else in my life will. For the last three weeks I’ve been stumbling through the days like the husk of a human. Welcome to the hell that is a full scale toddler sleep regression. Combine that with a sneaky dose of pregnancy insomnia and the unveiling of second trimester migraines and you are feel free to come and join me for a party any night upstairs between 1.13 am and daylight.
Sleep has always been a coveted cornerstone in my sanity and ability to parent. When given the chance, gosh I’m good at it. I’m often roused with the sheet creases on my cheek to prove it. We had such a wretched early trot with Will that The Hungry One and I joked that the only way we could contemplate expanding the brood is if he learned to sleep through the night. And by hook or by crook, we finally got there. The muscles on my right bicep remain freakishly over developed from months of thumping a mattress with the regularity of a metronome, my phone is heavy with podcasts and tagged articles on sleep ‘training’ and there were two spells in ‘naughty baby school’ (aka Tresillian). But we finally did it. We taught our son to stay in his cot from 7 pm to 5 am, at least. Some days we even got until 6.20 am (and then threw a small party).
And then we clocked that stashing a very cold weak bottle in his cot in a stubby cooler over night to help him self soothe at 3 am wasn’t really appropriate for a nearly-three year old. So we replaced it with a sippy cup filled with water. Oh the fury. Soon after he learned to vault out of his cot, even with a sleeping bag on backwards (toddler straightjacket). So we took the bars down to save potential spinal damage. And then he had a cold, some asthma and some steroid induced rage. And now we’re neck deep in a land I don’t like.
He doesn’t like it either. I know this, because it’s the phrase that is frequently bellowed from his room. ‘NO LIKE BED. NO LIKE SLEEP. NO LIKE YOU. THANK YOU’. Everything has become a battle. Bathtime is tainted with its close association with sleep time, so he will rather thrash like a tethered Mako shark, than consent to calm wafting in warm waters with bubbles and boats like he once did. Pyjamas are the spawn of the devil, to be thrown and fussed over, going through six changes before one suits his chosen aesthetic. You try explaining to a wardrobe ransacking three year old why a raincoat is not appropriate bedtime attire. It’s akin to living with Carrie Bradshaw on crystal meth.
Since we entered the badlands I’ve stopped the daytime naps. This makes for…. long days. We’ve bought a special ‘Gro Clock’ which helps tell the difference between night and day. We have an unassailable routine. And yet… the drama continues.
Before bed we’ve had to institute a process of ‘spraying for bears’. He has decided there are ‘SCARY BEARS’ that live in the corners of his room, so we have purchased a nifty gold screw top spray bottle and stuck a picture of a smiling bear on it. This is ‘No Scary Bear Repellent’ and he gets to spray it three times exactly before going to bed.
Once he is finally in bed blankets have to be precisely up to his chin. Not his neck, his chin- that distinction seems to be important. Some nights he likes a smaller blanket swaddled, Laurence of Arabia style around his head. He has to have his white bunny in his left hand and a sippy cup in his right. And then I get to sit outside his door for 22 minutes threatening to abscond with white bunny if he persists on climbing out of bed. Sometimes I’ve found him dancing to music only he can hear in front of the mirror in the dark.
Then, if the heavens bless us, he eventually relents to sleep. I can eat, wash, clean and find my way to bed not long after. But that’s when the party really starts. Because like the raptors in Jurassic Park, he has figured out how to open doors. There is little that is more menacing at 1.13 am than the shuffling sound of a determined 15 kilogram mass slinking over carpet to your bedside, then poking you in the eye while you sleep. ‘MUMMY. NO LIKE SLEEP. DOWNSTAIRS. IPAD. PEPPA PIG THANK YOU’.
‘Back to sleep Will. It’s the middle of the night.’ ‘NO SLEEP THANK YOU. NO LIKE IT THANK YOU. NO LIKE YOU THANK YOU’.
And so here we are.
The days are blurring into each other, a melange of caffeine, longing for gin, mild dread at the darkening hours and wonder. How is it possible for an active, growing child to exist on 6 hours of broken sleep?
I know that this too, shall pass. I know that when children are being hard, it’s because they are processing something hard. I know that in the middle of all of this, there are still sunshine bright moments of levity- he’s discovered a knack for slapstick comedy and likes to mock fall over just to make people chortle. He’s been persuaded to eat broccoli, so long as he gets to show off how much his biceps have grown after every bite. And even in the darkest of hours and fury, he still remembers to say thank you.
So I need to say thank you. Thank you to family members who step in with empathy and treats. Thank you to delightful easy food. And thank you to a stowaway, who this week has graduated to the size of a lemon and is largely being kind to their mother.
When days and nights are tough, comfort food becomes very important. And so I present to you these pancakes.
Once more into the breach my friends…
Lemon Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Creamed Kale
Serves 1 (but makes enough batter for 4 pancakes. The pancake batter will keep in the fridge for a day, or else you can make all four pancakes and store in the fridge as alternatives to wraps or in pancake bakes like this one)
This pancake batter is also excellent for swaddling ham, spinach and cheese, or glossing with a low sugar jam or nut butter when attempting to get some protein into offspring. The chickpea flour has more protein in it than wheat flour and is gluten free (if you need that). Here it has a mild nutty flavour that works very well with savoury accompaniments like kale and spinach. If dairy is an issue for you, I’ve included some swaps below. Additionally, the chickpea flour can be replaced in a 1:1 ratio with oat flour, spelt flour, gluten free flour or plain flour for a similar result.
1 cup/ 100 g chickpea flour (also known as besan or gram flour)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup/ 250 ml milk (can substitute with oat, almond or soy milk)
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 double handful of kale, shredded
1 tbsp butter/ coconut oil (for dairy free)
1 1/2 tbsp creme fraiche (can also substitute with cashew cream or cauliflower cream for dairy free)
1 tbsp grated parmesan (optional- can replace with nutritional yeast for dairy free).
8 basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1. To make the chickpea flour pancake batter, whisk together the chickpea flour, milk, eggs and zest of half of the lemon until smooth.
3) Add the olive oil to the bottom of a frypan and bring to a medium heat. Pour in 100 ml of the pancake batter and swirl around until you have a circular pancake. Cook over medium heat until you start to see small bubbles on the surface of the pancake. If using parmesan cheese, then scatter the parmesan (or nutritional yeast) over the top of the pancake. Cook until you can lift the sides of the pancake easily with a spatula and the bottom is brown.
5) Either fold the pancake in half, or swaddle into thirds using your spatula and transfer to a plate. Top with basil leaves, salt, pepper and additional parmesan to taste and serve with a cheek of lemon.
Previously in Poppyseed to Pumpkin
Each week mad websites and baby books will tell you how big your baby now is in comparison to a seed, fruit or vegetable. It starts as a poppy seed and goes from there. To make this process a little more palatable, join me as I bake my way through. Here’s the journey so far. (Nb, you can also see the poppy seed to pumpkin process in the app, or ebook from my first pregnancy with Will, or read about it on the blog here.